Home » DoDEA-Europe Team visits Incirlik AB Incirlik School Facilities
Education Europe Global News News

DoDEA-Europe Team visits Incirlik AB Incirlik School Facilities

Department of Defense Education Activity Europe Region leadership visited Incirlik Air Base, Türkiye, 18 July, 2023. Dr. Michelle Howard-Brahaney, DoDEA Region director, and Dr. Charles E. Kelker, DoDEA Region chief of staff, toured the schools on base to assess the feasibility of returning families to Incirlik.

Families have not been able live at Incirlik since the ordered departure on March 29, 2016, which has shown to affect the quality of life for the Airmen stationed at the base.

Time away from family affects not only the spouse and children, but the service members as well, which has led the Department of Defense to put family’s needs as a high priority focus, and Incirlik Air Base is taking large steps to accommodate.
“We learned during COVID the importance of being around family and now we’re seeing people not wanting to leave their families. So, I think it has a significant impact personally on people,” said Howard-Brahaney.

In addition to the difficulty Airmen face while separated from their families, the decision to move towards unaccompanied short tours also impacts the mission at the 39 Air Base Wing.

Col. Kevin M. Lord, 39th Air Base Wing commander, has made it a priority to improve continuity and proficiency for members at Incirlik.
“One of our priorities as leadership here at Incirlik is to improve continuity and proficiency at the 39 Air Base Wing,” said Lord. “Accompanied tours are a means to improve the accomplishment of the mission in addition to the quality of life for our families. Getting the schools up and running is one milestone team Titan needs to move in this direction.”

Incirlik transitioned to unaccompanied tours in 2016, but due to degradations in the threat environment, the conditions that lead to that decision no longer exist. Lord and past commanders have worked with the police in the Province of Adana as well as Turkish Air Force Brig. Gen. Mehmet Serkan Dan, 10th Tanker Base Command commander, ensure Incirlik is a safe and a desirable assignment for Airmen.
“We got excited walking around the school,” said Howard-Brahaney. “There’s a lot of potential, and every teacher I know who taught here before has said, ‘If Incirlik ever opens, I want to go back.’ I think it was just a really good place and I know our teachers really liked it.”

Another important milestone is ensuring the facilities are ready and able to support U.S. Air Force members and their families.
“There is a lot of planning and coordination with the services,” said Kelker. “We have to determine what is required. What are all the requirements? How do we meet the requirements? How do we fund those requirements? We are in the very early stages right now, and it’s important to get it right. That’s why we’re here.”

Currently Incirlik AB assists in maintaining a DoDEA school in Ankara, Türkiye, which supports military members and diplomats on Chief of Mission status, but will not be used by the majority of military members assigned to Türkiye under the Status of Forces Agreement until accompanied tours return.

“We have a school in Ankara with about 200 students, Kindergarten through 12th grade, that has been there for a long time, a really long time,” said Howard-Brahaney. “It’s a really great school. Kids do really well there, it’s one of our highest performing schools, so we’d love to see more military students if accompanied tours return.”
With DoDEA visiting Incirlik AB, it is a step towards extending the tour from one year to two, ensuring better continuity to complete the mission.

“From my experience and we’re in the education lane, not the operation lane but when I was in that lane, the continuity was better. You don’t have someone on a one-year tour come in, take a couple of months to get spun up and then they’re out. So, there’s that always revolving door. Having a longer continuity seems to be better operationally,” said Dr. Charles E. Kelker, Department of Defense Education Activity Europe Region chief of staff.

He adds, “We are working hard,” said Kelker. “It’s not an individual DoDEA decision, many people are involved. So we’ll keep pressing forward and see where we land!”

Source : Dvids